Do You Know Your Pet Ownership Law?

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Owning and caring for a pet can be a source of great enjoyment, but being a pet owner is a major responsibility and part of being a responsible owner includes knowing about and understanding the law surrounding pet ownership.  Many pet owners in the UK are not aware of the law or of what they are required to provide for their pets to ensure their physical and mental well being. The PDSA’s Annual PAW Report 2015 reported that only 31% of pet owners surveyed were familiar with the Animal Welfare Act.

Although not all owners are familiar with the ins and outs of the actual Animal Welfare Act, the majority are providing everything their pet needs already. However, the RSPCA investigated a shocking 143,004 cruelty complaints and secured 1,781 convictions by private prosecution to protect animals in the last year.

The Animal Welfare Act

This came into force on April 6th 2007. It increased and introduced new penalties for acts of cruelty, neglect, mutilation, tail docking and animal fighting but importantly, it also introduced a duty of care for all pet owners. There is no particularly perfect way to care for pets because each pet will have it’s own individual needs, so it is up to you as the owner to find out what your particular pet’s needs are and ensure that you can meet them.

The Animal Welfare Act applies to anyone who is responsible for an animal whether permanently or temporarily and includes fines of up to £20,000, a maximum jail term of 51 weeks and a lifetime ban on some owners keeping pets.

Under Section 9  of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 you must  take all reasonable steps to ensure that you meet  the following needs that your pet has,

1. Provide a suitable environment and living space 

  • You pet will need a safe, clean environment with protection from hazards. If your pet is kept outside you need to check it frequently to ensure he or she is safe and well.
  • A comfortable, clean, dry, quiet, draught-free rest area.
  • Somewhere to hide in order to avoid things that frighten it.
  • Access to an appropriate place, away from its resting area, which it can use as a toilet area.
  • The living area should be large enough to be comfortable and provide sufficient space to move around in. Minimum cage sizes for small animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, rats and other rodents should be taken into consideration – the bigger the better!
  • The living area should be properly ventilated and at the correct temperature so that the pet does not get too hot or cold.
  • You should never leave your pet unattended in any situation, or for any period of time, that is likely to cause it distress or harm.
  • When transporting your pet, make sure it is comfortable, safe and secure at all times. The transport must be well ventilated and at the correct temperature. Your pet should have access to water if the journey is longer than a few hours (small furries and birds should have access to food and water all of the time). Bedding or flooring must be adequate and absorb any moisture if the pet goes to the toilet during transport. Dogs should be given toilet breaks on longer journeys, but ensure they cannot escape in an unfamiliar place!

2. Provide a diet suitable to the pet’s needs

  • Your pet will need clean fresh drinking water at all times. If  you own a dog, this may mean taking water with you on walks where clean water is unlikely  to be available.
  • You must provide your pet with a balanced diet that is suited to its individual needs including its age, level of activity and health.
  • You must ensure that you feed the correct amount of food and that your pet is maintained at the correct weight and does not become underweight or overweight/obese.
  •  Your pet must be able to reach it’s food and water easily.
  • If you are uncertain what diet is best for your pet you should seek advice from a veterinary practice or suitably qualified pet care specialist.

3. Allow the pet to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns

  • Make sure your pet has enough things to do in it’s environment so that it does not become distressed or bored. This may mean adding toys, hiding places, climbing places, scratching posts, ladders, digging places, activity toys and feeders etc to suit your pet’s individual requirements.  For example giving cats access to high places and scratching places.
  • Make sure your pet has access to safe toys and suitable objects to play with and, in the cases of some pets, chew on.
  • Ensure that your pet can rest undisturbed when it needs to – this may mean giving them a bed, crate or separate part in their living space where they will not be disturbed by people or other animals when they are resting.
  • Provide your pet with regular opportunities for exercise and play with people or other pets, depending on the species of your pet.
  • Make sure that your pet has the opportunity to exercise properly every day. It is important to keep your pet fit, active and mentally stimulated. If you are unsure how much or what type of exercise to provide, seek advice from a veterinary practice or suitably qualified pet care specialist.
  • Ensure that where appropriate you train your pet. Use only positive reward based training and avoid harsh, painful or frightening training methods. Training is not only necessary for a well behaved pet, it is great for mental stimulation and bonding. Although most people associate training with dogs, almost any pet can be trained including cats, rabbits, rodents and birds. (View our training article)

4. To house their pet with, or apart from, other animals 

  • Make sure that your pet is never left alone long enough for it to become distressed.
  • Some pets are solitary and do not need to live with other animals, for example some dogs, cats and certain types of rodents prefer to be live as a sole pet, but others such as rabbits, guinea pigs and rats are very social and should be housed with one or more companions of the same species.
  • If your pet lives on it’s own make sure that it has opportunities to spend enough time with people so that it does not become lonely or bored.
  • In the case of dogs, you should  ensure that your dog has plenty of opportunity to meet, socialise and play with other friendly dogs. Encourage your dog to be friendly towards other dogs from an early age. There are some dogs that just don’t like other dogs, so in this case you will need to ensure they have plenty of contact from you.
  • Animals should be given regular opportunities to socialise with people and, where appropriate for the species of pet, other animals from an early age.
  • It is important that if you keep more than one pet , of the same or different species, that they get on well together and do not fight. They must have plenty of space to move away or hide from each other if necessary.
  • When pets live together adequate extra resources must be provided for some species, for example separate water bowls, food bowls, litter trays and toys. This will help avoid any conflict and tension over valuable resources. With dogs you may need to make an effort to provide them with 1-1 time with you and without the other dog.
  • If your dog is fearful of, or aggressive towards other dogs or people, or if certain social  interactions distress or frighten your dog we advise you seek appropriate advice from a qualified canine behaviourist.

5. To protect their pet from pain, suffering, injury, illness and disease

  • You need to take precautions to keep your pet safe from injury.
  • If you notice any changes in your pet’s behaviour or normal routine you should contact a veterinary practice and follow the advice you are given.
  • Check your pet regularly for signs of injury, disease or illness.
  • Maintain your pet’s condition, for example grooming and removing any knots in the coat (or get a groomer to do this for you) , making sure there is no faecal matter and urine on the the coat and making sure that your pet is fit and well.
  • If you recognise signs and symptoms of disease, suspect that your pet is in pain, ill or injured or if you have any concerns about its health or welfare contact a veterinary practice and follow the advice regarding treatment.
  • Ensure that your pet has regular veterinary health checks and that you provide preventative health care, where appropriate to the species of pet, for example vaccinations, booster vaccinations, worming, flea treatment and neutering.
  • Clean up after your pet including cleaning the toileting area and cage or enclosure regularly and with the appropriate, safe cleaning products to avoid disease and illness.
  • Protect your pets from ingesting or coming in to contact with harmful household items and substances such as medicines and foods intended for humans or other animals, cleaning products or antifreeze.  You should always seek veterinary advice if you suspect that your pet has eaten anything harmful.
  • Collars on cats and dogs should be of the correct size and fit, and should not cause any pain or discomfort; dogs are required to wear a collar and identity tag when in a public place by law.
  • If your pet is microchipped remember to keep the microchip database up to date with any changes in your contact details.
  • You should seek the advice of your veterinary practice before breeding your pet and take all reasonable steps to ensure that both the male and female pets are fit and healthy, with no inheritable diseases or conditions and that you will be able to find suitable homes for the offspring.

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As a responsible dog owner, there are several laws regarding dog ownership that you should be aware of and we have put the most important ones into this article.

Microchipping of Dogs (Control of Dogs Order)

All dogs in England must be microchipped and registered on an approved database by the time they are 8 weeks old. Breeders will need to microchip their puppies before they are transferred to a new owner. and new owners will be responsible for updating the microchip with their details. The owners/keepers of the dog must ensure that their details are kept up to date on the microchip database for their dog.

More information on Microchipping 

Identification (Control of Dogs Order)

Your dog must wear an identity disk or tag on his or her collar or harness while in a public place i.e. anywhere outside your property. The tag must have, at the very least, your surname and address on it; a contact telephone number is optional. This law applies even if your dog is microchipped (the law has not caught up with modern technological advances yet!) There is a fine of up to £5000 that may be given if your dog is in a public place and not wearing some form of ID. This applies regardless of whether you are with your dog or not.

According to the PDSA’s Annual report, more than 1.5 million dogs don’t wear a collar and tag and 30% of dog owners are unaware that this is a legal requirement!

Dog Law ID Tag

Public Spaces Protection Orders (Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act
and the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime & Policing Act)

Some public areas in England and Wales are covered by Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) – previously called Dog Control Orders (DCOs). There should be signs up designating these controlled areas

In public areas with PSPOs, you may have to:

  • Keep your dog on a lead
  • Put your dog on a lead if told to by a police officer, police community support officer or someone from the council
  • Stop your dog going to certain places – like farmland or parts of a park
  • Limit the number of dogs you have with you (this applies to professional dog walkers too)

If you ignore a PSPO, you can be fined £100 on the spot fixed penalty notice or up to £1,000 if it goes to court (You can’t be fined if you’re a registered blind dog owner).

Cleaning Up After Your Dog – Poop Scooping (Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act)

It is illegal to let your dog foul in a public place and not clean it up. Claiming that you are unaware that your dog had defecated or not having the correct equipment with you (poo bags), is not an acceptable excuse. Dog poo on pavements and in playing/green areas is not only unpleasant for other people and animals, but it also carries health hazards.

You can face an on the spot fixed penalty fine of £50 -£80 if you do not clean up after your dog. If you refuse to pay the fine you can be prosecuted and face a court appearance with a fine of up to £1000

Clean up after your dog. Not only is it against the law to let your dog foul in public places, it's unpleasant for other people too.

Clean up after your dog. Not only is it against the law to let your dog foul in public places, it’s unpleasant for other people too.

Stray Dogs (Environmental Protection Act)

The Council must serve notice on a known owner of a stray dog. If the owner fails to come forward and pay the Council’s fees within 7 days from date of seizure or service of the notice, the Council may rehome the dog or may have it put to sleep.

Another reason why your dog should wear and id tag and be microchipped.

Control Of Your Dog (Dangerous Dogs Act and the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime & Policing Act)

It is against the law to let a dog be dangerously out of control. This now applies to both private property and public places.

  • You must be able to control your dog at all times, this means being able to call your dog back to you and making sure that he or she responds to you.
  • Your dog must not jump up at or chase other members of the public. Even the friendliest or smallest of dogs can cause damage by jumping up at someone, especially a child or an elderly person.
  • If there is any possibility that your dog is might attack another dog or a person he or she must be muzzled in public places.
  • You must not train or encourage your dog to attack/threaten people or other dogs.

Your dog is considered dangerously out of control if it:

  1. Injures someone
  2. Makes someone worried that it might injure them
  3. It attacks a Guide Dog

A court may also consider your dog dangerously out of control if

  1. It injures someone’s animal
  2. If the owner of the animal thinks they could be injured if they tried to stop your dog attacking their animal

Depending on the severity of the offence you could be faced with a prison sentence of  between 6 months and 14 years and/or an unlimited fine. Your dog may be destroyed and you may not be able to own dogs in the future.

If your dog is likely to bite someone then you must take every precaution to prevent this from happening

If you think your dog might bite or attack someone then you must take every precaution to prevent this from happening

Walking and Travelling With your Dog (The Road Traffic Act)

It is an offence to have a dog on a designated road without it being held on a lead.

Dogs (or indeed any animal) travelling in vehicles should not be a nuisance or in any way distract the driver during a journey. When travelling in a vehicle, you must ensure that your dog is suitably restrained, either in a crate/carrier, behind a dog guard or by using a seatbelt harness. A dog that is loose in a car can cause an accident very easily.

If you are involved in a collision between your vehicle and a dog, you must stop, and the police must be informed. It’s the law!

The driver of a car involved in a collision with a dog MUST stop and stay on the scene until the police have given the driver permission to leave, which usually happens after they have attended the scene (If you see someone hit a dog with a car and drive off, inform the police and give them as much detail as possible).

If the dog was loose at the time of the incident, the owner of the dog may be liable for any damage caused to the car or any injury caused to the driver (see third party liability below), which is another great reason to insure your pet.

Noise Nuisance (Environmental Protection Act)

Dog barking can be classed as a statutory nuisance if it is intrusive and irritating and is effecting someone’s quiet enjoyment of their property. If a complaint is made to the local authority may serve a Noise Abatement Notice.

Causing Distress to Farm Animals (Protection of Livestock Act)

You must never let your dog off the lead anywhere near livestock (farm animals/horses) unless you can be absolutely sure that he or she wont go anywhere near them. You are responsible for what your dog does, and if your dog causes damage to livestock by worrying, chasing, injuring or killing them, you can be fined up to £1,000 plus compensation to the farmer.

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Farm animals get worried by dogs very easily

Third Party Liability (Animals Act and Dangerous Dogs Act)

The keeper of a dog is strictly liable for any damage caused by the dog in certain circumstances. This can include destruction of property and personal injury, illness or death (including the damage done to a person or their car if they hit your dog in the road!) It is recommended that you take out third party insurance liability cover as a precaution.

Please note

The above information is only a guideline of the laws involved in pet ownership, for further and more in-depth information on dog law we recommend that you visit www.legislation.gov.uk

The law surrounding dog ownership can be very complicated especially if a dog has injured someone. If you are concerned or you are involved in a case about your own dog, we recommend that you contact a dog law specialist as soon as possible for advice.

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Making Travelling & Vet Visits Less Stressful For Cats

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Most cats find travelling outside their home to be a very stressful experience.
Cats aren’t stupid, they know that the cat carrier means a trip to the vet where they will very likely be poked and prodded, often when they are already feeling poorly or sore. Or it could be a trip to the cattery while you are away on holiday, either way your cat knows that the cat carrier is not a good thing. I’m sure that more than a few of you have tried getting your cat through that small opening in the cat carrier and ended up completely stressed, with a few battle wounds and a missing cat!

We’ve all been here!

How to make travelling less stressful

1. If possible leave the cat carrier in your home (rather than the shed or garage) with a nice cosy bed in it. Rewarding your cat with a tasty treat when he or she chooses to go near or into the carrier , should encourage  frequent use and ensure your cat doesn’t always associate it with nasty trips. It also means that your cat learns to feel safe in there.

2. Make sure the carrier is sturdy and escape Two comfortable and happy kittiesproof once the door is closed. The last thing you want is a stressed cat leaping about in the car on the way to the veterinary surgery or cattery, or worse escaping while you are in a car park miles away from home.

3. Choose your carrier carefully. It is much easier to pick up a cat and pop him into the open top of a basket/carrier, rather than trying to force him through a small doorway in the front – if his feet are on the floor it is much easier to escape! If you can’t get a top opening carrier, my tip is to position the carrier so that the door is facing upwards and gently put the cat in.

4. It is always a good idea to have some sort of absorbent liner in the carrier in case your cat has an accident. Absorbent pet bedding such as Vet-Bed can be used or you could get some incontinence pads which are quite cheap to buy and easily cut to size.

5. Using Feliway (www.feliway.co.uk) spray in the carrier 15 minutes before you place you cat into it may help to keep your cat calmer on the journey and at the vets. Feliway helps cats naturally cope with stressful situations and is available from your veterinary practice or in some of the bigger pet stores.

6. If you are going to be travelling a long distance with your cat, ensure that he or she has access to fresh water. For very long journeys a larger travelling crate with room for a litter tray and somewhere to hide may make for a happier kitty. You may also want to consider chatting to your vet about medication to help your cat feel calmer on the journey; as well as using Feliway, products such as Zylkene or Scullcap & Valerian may also be helpful.

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How to place your cat into a front opening carrier
Turn the basket onto its end so the door is facing upwards. Have someone steady the carrier to prevent it from tipping over. Gently lower the cat into the carrier and close the door.

To avoid stress at the veterinary surgery

Put your cat in a carrier when you visit your vet because your cat will feel much more secure in there than if he or she were loose in your arms. There are cat harnesses available, but if your veterinary practice isn’t lucky enough to have a separate cat waiting area, your cat will be terrified and have nowhere to hide if a dog comes into the waiting room.

Turn your cat carrier around so that it’s door is facing a wall , chairback or yourself (obviously this doesn’t apply to top-opening carriers!). Some cats are also much happier with a towel or small blanket over the top of their carrier to give them even more privacy, especially if they are in a wire basket.

Try not to sit close to any dogs who might be visiting the vets. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen dogs being allowed to sniff the carrier containing a terrified kitty who cannot escape, and the dog owner saying “it’s ok, he’s good with cats” and the cat owner replying “Oh yes, it’s fine she lives with a dog” Poor cat!  The same applies to other cats, it is best to face them away from each other when possible.

At Castle Vets we are fortunate enough to have completely separate cat facilities so that our feline patients never have to be worried about dogs nosing their baskets and trying to get in. Our feline patients are much calmer and easy to handle because dogs never enter the waiting room, consulting rooms, kennels or operating theatre.

Feliway is often helpful as it will help keep your cat calm.

I hope you find this article informative, please let us know what you think in the comments.

If you have any questions please contact your veterinary practice

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Tooth Care For Dogs and Cats

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At Castle Vets in Reading, we see a huge number of pets every month with some form of dental disease. Periodontal disease is the most common dental condition and affects both dogs and cats and happens when plaque and tartar build up on the teeth causing tooth decay, infection and inflammation of the gums.

Did you know that by the age of 3 years, 80% of dogs and 70% cats have some sign of dental disease? If left untreated, dental disease can lead to premature loss of teeth and gum tissue. The bacteria in plaque can also spread to vital organs such as the heart, liver and kidneys leading to infection and further problems.

Common Signs Of Dental Disease 

  • Weight loss
  • Not eating well
  • Chewing food slowly or only on one side of the mouth
  • Rubbing the face
  • Bad breath
  • Chattering teeth
  • Increased salivation
  • Loss of coat condition
  • Bleeding gums
  • Inflamed (very red) gums
  • Receding gums
  • Plaque or staining visible on the teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Missing teeth
  • Swelling on the side of the face (abscess)

If you notice any of these symptoms please take you pet to see your vet as dental problems can be very painful and lead to further complications very quickly.

Some examples of dental disease

Some examples of dental disease

Most Dental Disease Is Preventable

The good news is that most dental disease is preventable. It is a good idea to start preventative health care as soon as possible in order to help avoid putting your pet through lengthy dental surgery when he or she is older. As with humans, daily brushing will keep your pet’s teeth and gums healthy and help prevent bad breath.

  • Brushing can be started at any age but should always be introduced slowly.
  • Remember to reward your pet after brushing his or her teeth.
  • Always use a pet toothbrush because they are designed with the shape of your pet’s teeth in mind, so will do a much better job than a human toothbrush.
  • Always use pet toothpaste. Human toothpaste can be harmful to pets.

How to brush your pet’s teeth

Gradually build up the following stages over a period of 1-2 weeks until your pet is happy with the procedure. It is really important that you remember to reward your pet after each session to encourage acceptance.

Stage 1 – Without using a brush, gently stroke the outside of your pets cheeks with your finger and try lifting each lip slowly for about 10 -20 seconds.

Stage 2 – Repeat stage 1 and also offer your pet a small amount of pet toothpaste on the end of your finger or a toothbrush and let them lick it off. (At Castle Vets we recommend C.E.T. Toothpaste and Logic Oral Hygiene Gel for tooth brushing)

Stage 3 – Repeat stage 2 but this time start to gently run your finger or toothbrush, with a small amount of toothpaste, over your pet’s teeth for about 10-20 seconds. Don’t press hard onto the teeth or gums, just use light forward, backward, up and down motions.

Stage 4 – Repeat stage 3 with the toothbrush, adding another 10-20 seconds to the time spent brushing. You can now start to add in circular motions over the teeth and gums with the toothbrush.

Stage 5 – When your pet is comfortable with tooth brushing, you can build up to 1-2 minutes a day on each side of the mouth. If your pet won’t stay still for that long you could try doing one side in the morning and the other in the evening.

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Hints And Tips For Successful Brushing 

  • The daily brushing procedure should be an enjoyable experience for your pet. If you follow up each brushing session with a really good reward your pet is more likely to accept the procedure. For cats this could be a bit of tasty fish or a cat treat, for dogs you can use food treats or follow brushing with a walk or a play session.
  • Take things slowly with your pet when you initially start brushing. If your pet becomes uncomfortable with a stage, go back to the previous stage and try again. If your pet becomes distressed at the procedure, stop. If you continue or force your pet the whole procedure will just become more difficult.
  • Try to choose a time of the day when you can spend a few minutes of relaxed contact with your pet, rather than trying to fit it in when you are rushing about.
  • Find a position that is comfortable for your pets. With dogs you could try lying them on their side with their head on your lap so you have easy access. With cats sometimes less restraint is better; a cat that enjoys the taste of the toothpaste may just let you raise the lips and brush.
  • The small teeth at the front of your pet’s mouth (incisors) tend to be more sensitive than the rest of the teeth, so don’t start brushing these until your pet is comfortable with having the rest of their teeth brushed.
  • The outer surfaces of the upper teeth are the ones that tend to attract the most plaque, so these should be given the most attention – fortunately they are also the easiest to get to.
  • You don’t necessarily need to brush the insides of your pet’s teeth as your pet’s tongue and the toothpaste will do a fairly good job there.
  • Make sure you include the gums when brushing teeth as the gum line is as important to keep clean as the teeth.
  • Some cats hate the idea of finger brushes. With these cats try a small piece of gauze over your little finger, it should be abrasive enough to clean the teeth but will be far less invasive.
  • We recommend you use a finger brush or a piece of gauze for tooth brushing because you will be able to feel exactly where the brush is going and the pressure you are applying. Long handled toothbrushes can bump and bruise gums which will upset your pet. We don’t recommend the use of electric toothbrushes on your pet as they can be too harsh on the teeth and gums.
  • If your pet won’t tolerate brushing at all don’t worry, please come in and have a chat with one of our veterinary nurses about alternative methods. Nothing is as good as brushing but some of the alternatives are far better than doing nothing at all.
Toothbrush types

There are many different types of pet toothbrush available for pets. Ask one of our veterinary nurses for advice on the most suitable one for your pet.

What You Feed Your Pet Can Make A Difference

Your pet’s diet plays a major role in the development of plaque and calculus. Soft or sticky foods should be avoided, especially if you cannot brush your pet’s teeth. Commercial dry pet foods are not enough, simply because the biscuit just crumbles when your dog or cat chews their food,  so they do nothing to clean the teeth. A specially formulated ‘dental’ prescription diet called Hills t/d is available at Castle Vets. Hills t/d has a special fibre-matrix structure that grips the tooth all the way to the gum-line when the pet bites into it. These fibres scrub tooth surfaces to remove bacteria-laden plaque as the pet chews. The biscuit size is also larger than most pet foods to encourage chewing instead of just swallowing the biscuits. The Hills Vet Essentials range also have larger biscuits with a similar formula.

Hills td diet

Alternatives To Brushing

Although nothing beats brushing, we understand that some pets will just not tolerate it. Fortunately there are a few of other ways that you can help your pet including dental gels and mouth washes and special diets.

Logic oral hygiene gel is a medicated dental gel that helps prevent the formation of dental plaque and fights bad breath. The multi-enzyme system in Logic Oral Hygiene Gel supplements the animal’s own defence mechanism to help fight harmful bacteria in the mouth. The gel also contains a surfactant which ensures that the active ingredients remain in contact with the teeth and gums and mild abrasives that help break down existing plaque. Logic is ideally used as a toothpaste with brushing but, in the case of a pet that won’t accept brushing, it will still be beneficial due to the abrasive and enzymatic properties.

C.E.T. Oral Hygiene Rinse is a dental mouthwash and breath freshener for cats and dogs. It provides antibacterial action and plaque prevention and is effective in helping maintain oral health when used daily with or without brushing.

ProDen Plaque Off is a supplement that can be added to the pet’s food once daily. When the unique agents of Plaque Off reach the saliva they effectively prevent oral bacteria from producing plaque and tartar. Existing tartar becomes porous and loosens by itself or is easily removed through normal brushing of the teeth. Improvements are normally seen within 5-8 weeks. Plaque Off is also made from 100% natural ingredients. (Plaque Off may not be suitable for use in animals with hyperthyroidism or other chronic diseases due to the iodine content, so check with your vet first).

All of these products are available at Castle Vets

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Just a few of the brushing alternatives available for cats and dogs.
If your pet will not tolerate tooth brushing, ask your veterinary nurse which alternative product may help you keep your pet’s teeth clean.

A word about dental chews and treats

Chewing produces saliva, which can help protect your pet’s teeth and some types of dental treats can help to reduce tarter build-up and plaque. Rawhide chews, dental chews, dental biscuits and chew toys are all helpful as long as they encourage sustained chewing. Watch out for the calorie content of these products; they can range from 30 kcal to 300 kcal per product! So it is really important to remember to reduce your pet’s normal food accordingly to avoid weight gain – if in doubt ask a veterinary nurse to work out the calorie content and advise on how much you should reduce your pet’s food by. You should also consider the size of the chew as well; if your pet can swallow it in one bite, it is not really going to do anything to help keep his or her teeth clean.

There is a huge range of dental chews available for cats and dogs. But not all of them will work for your pet

There is a huge range of dental chews and toys available for cats and dogs

We hope you enjoyed this article on dental care.

At Castle Vets we offer free dental appointments with our veterinary nurses so you can discuss your pet’s dental health. The veterinary nurse nurse will give your pet a dental check and advise you on how to keep your pet’s teeth and gums in tip top condition. Please contact us to make an appointment.

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Heart Problems

Our pets are susceptible to heart problems, just like we are and because our pets are living longer lives than their predecessors, heart disease is becoming increasingly more common in dogs and cats. Heart problems can occur in any breed, age or sex of animal, but some dog breeds, such as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Poodle, Boxer, and Bulldog, and cat breeds, such as the Persian, Maine Coon, Siamese and Ragdoll seem to be more susceptible to heart disease than others.

Heart problems may be present from birth (congenital), or may happen as our pets get older. 

  1. Congenital: Heart conditions can be caused as the embryo develops in the mother’s womb or may be a hereditary (passed on from the mother or father). In this case the problem is present at birth but signs may go undetected for a while.
  2. Adult onset: These conditions occur as a result of damage to the heart which prevent it functioning properly and may be caused by
  • General wear and tear with age
  • Increased stress on the heart from concurrent illnesses or obesity
  • Hereditary conditions which do not present until the animal is fully grown.
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Bulldogs, Persians, Cavaliers and Siamese can all suffer with heart problems

Continue reading

Pet Obesity

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Pet obesity is a growing problem in the United Kingdom with an estimated 1 in 3 dogs and 1 in 4 cats being overweight. Pet obesity is an extremely serious welfare issue in our pets for the following reasons

  • Obesity is a preventable disease caused by being fed too many calories
  • Obesity can cause a lot of unnecessary suffering in pets
  • In some animals obesity can be extremely disabling
  • It can affect animals for long periods of their lives

Being overweight can also make it more likely that your pet could suffer from serious health problems and conditions such as Continue reading

Caring For Pets During Wintery Weather

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Just like us, the colder months can be a challenge the health and well-being of our pets. Most animals will bound through the chillier months in full health, but we need to be mindful that changes in temperatures and shorter days can have a real impact on the health and happiness of some of our family pets, especially the smaller or more frail ones. Continue reading

My Tips For A Pet Safe Christmas

PS XMAS

Now we are on the countdown to Christmas, many of us will be putting up the tree and decorations over the coming weeks. Your pets may also find this time of year very exciting and even come up with some novel games like “Climb the weird indoor sparkly tree”, “eat the Christmas decorations as fast as you can” and “eat the lovely goodies that our humans thoughtfully left out for us“.

Veterinary practices usually see an increase of poorly pets over the Christmas holidays, with illnesses ranging from stress and tummy upsets to more serious problems such as intestinal blockages and accidental toxin ingestion/poisonings.

I’m sure you will agree that you would prefer to spend the holiday season celebrating with your family, rather than visiting the veterinary practice; so here are my tips for having pet safe celebrations. Continue reading